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Monday, October 18, 2021

Men’s water polo: Men’s water polo beats Tritons, falls to No. 13 Pepperdine

After playing on a short but grueling road trip that featured eleven games in just over two weeks, the Aggies came home to play their next eight games at Schaal Aquatic Center.

It was a great change of pace for UC Davis, who finished the home stand last weekend against No. 9 UC San Diego and No. 13 Pepperdine.

Friday – No. 11 UC Davis 6, No. 9 UC San Diego 5

The Aggies have so many outlets that once top scorer Carlos Martinez has now been more of a distributor.

“We have a lot more options,” Martinez said. “In previous seasons, I was relied on as the primary source – now I’m the last option in the offense.”

The Aggies still needed every goal they could muster to take a 6-5 win over the No. 9 Tritons last Friday. Martinez’ two key goals and stellar defense helped the Aggies upset UC San Diego for a second time this year.

Like their game against Pacific, the Aggies started as the aggressor and scored the first point. After a Kevin Peat save, a pass to senior Cory Lyle would result in the first score of the game as Lyle’s shot found home.

Though the Tritons took the lead with two goals of their own, junior Walter Eggert would tie the game on a lobbed shot over the Triton goalkeeper for a score.

During a 6 on 5 power play late in the first half, Martinez muscled his way in to gather the rebound and bury the ball in the cage, giving UC Davis a 3-2 lead.

Both teams would score once more to make the halftime score 4-3 in favor of the Aggies.

Right out of the gate, senior Matt Richardson would give UC Davis a two score lead.

The Tritons answered back with a goal of their own, putting pressure on the Aggies.

In the final seconds of the third quarter, however, Martinez would retain his composure and his cool as he scored the go-ahead goal with only one second left on the shot clock. His goal gave Aggies a 6-5 edge and a lead that the defense would not surrender.

With two minutes to go, UC San Diego put up a flurry of three shots on one possession, but came up empty. With 24 seconds left, the Tritons had an opportunity to run one last play, but were stifled as Martinez’s pesky defense prevented the Tritons from easily advancing the ball.

“Our defense is a team defense,” men’s coach Steve Doten said. “When we play the top teams in the conference, we’re not big or athletic enough to shut everybody down.”

Saturday – No. 13 Pepperdine 7, No. 11 UC Davis 5 (OT)

Like their most recent games, this one was all about defense.

No team had a player score more than one goal and neither team found a way to start a large run.

UC Davis utility player Ryan Hagens would tie the game 1-1 after Pepperdine took an early lead in the first quarter.

“Ryan Hagens is coming back from an injury,” Doten said. “We need to get him [back] in [the game]. He provides a lot for us.”

UC Davis was paced by two goals from Lyle in the second quarter off of two five-meter exclusions. At the end of the half, the score would be 3-3.

Eggert’s goal with 5:10 to go in the third gave the Aggies a 4-3 lead that the Wave would eventually tie.

But the Aggies breathed a sigh of relief as center Aaron Salit gave UC Davis the lead with under three minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Aggies’ defense, however, seemed to let up. UC Davis was unable to stop the Waves from scoring and forcing overtime, where Pepperdine scored two goals and won the game 7-5.

With the loss, the Aggies are now 12-6 on the season but still remain 11-0 in Western Water Polo Association play. The Aggies will travel to Santa Clara, Calif. to participate in The Rodeo starting Oct. 23.

MATT WANG can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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